Photo: To Vima
The expected cuts in the wages of the military are disturbing the leadership of the Greek army. The pressure from the supervisory Troika for cuts in the so-called "special" payroll tables has caused collisions at the highest level of the military hierarchy.
According to sources, Minister of Defence Panos Panagiotopoulos promised the military that their income would not be further reduced. This was one of the main election promises of New Democracy and the present Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. So, close associates of the Minister insisted that the measure could not be implemented.
Such is the position of the chief commander of the general staff of the Greek army. Two days ago, General Michalis Kostarakos posted an explicit message in his personal profile on the social network Twitter: "No member of the armed forces has issued an order to discuss further reductions in salaries and allowances. The Defence Minister said, "Not a euro." The struggle continues." A little later, he added in a new message, "so far, the income of the staff of the armed forces exceeds 30 per cent."
It seems that the prospect of further reductions will not be long in generating dynamic protests similar to those in Spain. The association for support and cooperation of the armed forces has sent an email to the union of retired military for the establishment of a unified position. The message indicates that the threat of new income cuts will start from the operating military and will affect their retired colleagues. Panic is great and it is proved by the pressure for co-ordinating the actions by the end of the week.
At the same time, other costs need to be cut in order to keep the "special" payroll tables. The withdrawal of outdated weapon systems is being discussed at present. For example, the obsolete A7 Corsair systems, which were expected to be withdrawn after a year as well as the old minesweepers whose maintenance is very expensive. Analysts, however, state that the key lies in the closure of some of the numerous military units.
Before retiring, former chief commander Constantinos Ziazias made a long list of units that could be closed or merged with others. In private conversations, Deputy Minister Panagiotis Karabelas also recognizes that it is possible to resort to the closure of units. However, both he and the senior military hierarchy are aware of the reactions of deputies and local government in areas where many shops were opened and exist entirely due to the military units that are located there. Another contradiction is that even local church authorities also have an opinion about whether there will be a military unit in a particular city.
Commentators suggest that the allocation will affect the land forces to which most of the units belong. Army sources are warning that the cuts should be carried out without reducing the readiness. In any case, the strategy for national security policy, which was prepared in recent months, provides the opportunity for the reorganization of small and larger combat units. It only remains to find out whether the current political leadership of the Ministry of Defence is ready to take the serious but very compelling decisions.